This Roadmap a resource for local development districts (LDDs) in Appalachia to help promote broadband development for underserved and unserved areas of their community. The Roadmap examines each major phase of a local broadband initiative by issue-area, expounding on decision points, common challenges, and best practices.

The process of improving broadband in a region can be divided into six clear phases that are generally executed in this order, although multiple phases may occur simultaneously

What are the foundational components of a local broadband initiative?

  • Assembling a broadband committee with key stakeholders.
  • Selecting a capable project leader.
  • Setting measurable goals that all involved parties can agree to.
  • Identifying federal, state, and non-profit assistance.

How can project teams determine the current state of regional broadband development and identify opportunities to expand access to underserved communities?

  • Measuring current levels of service availability.
  • Identifying existing development assets
  • Determining consumer demand for internet.
  • Considering potential legislative and regulatory roadblocks at the state and local levels.

What types of strategies can local leaders implement to facilitate consumer access to internet services and help residents develop digital literacy and skills?

  • Identifying programs to increase the affordability and facilitate access to the internet and internet enabled devices.
  • Building strategies to raise community awareness regarding the expected ‘return on investment’ of internet service.
  • Providing residents with digital literacy and skills training focused on the benefits of internet.

What types of state and local legislation and regulations impede community-led development of broadband infrastructure?

  • Understanding infrastructure such as pole construction and attachments, cable excavation and conduit installation
  • Identifying restrictions on an organization’s ability to provide service.
  • Streamlining burdensome local regulations that increase broadband deployment cost and disincentivize private sector investment.

What are the key factors to consider when determining the optimal organizational model to finance, deploy, and maintain broadband infrastructure.

  • Developing an organizational model that considers the unique mix of project goals, community assets, partners, and local/state regulations.
  • Forming partnerships with private internet service providers.

How can I locate and apply for state and federal funding that supports broadband development, affordability, and access?

  • Applying for programs that rely on FCC Form 477 data.
  • Identifying programs independent of FCC data.
  • Layering multiple funding streams for development purposes.
  • Increasing the affordability of internet service.